You ask me how to pray to someone who is not.
All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge
And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard,
Above landscapes the color of ripe gold
Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun.
That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal
Where everything is just the opposite and the word 'is'
Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned.
Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately,
Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh
And knows that if there is no other shore
We will walk that aerial bridge all the same.
- Czeslaw Milosz
He also recommended The Summer Day by Mary Oliver. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16CL6bKVbJQ
and said how he was influenced by her words when they were presented to him when he had leukemia. "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
And there is this by Raymond Carver - What the Doctor Said. http://rosannefreed.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/poetry-what-the-doctor-said-by-raymond-carver/
And Donald Hall's book, Without, with poems about the death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon.
Dr. Micco asked, "What is medicine about?" I'm paraphrasing but he answered as I understand it, that it is about aiding the efforts of those who are suffering, and walking the "velvet bridge" of compassion together.
Dr. Stephen McPhee spoke eloquently about poetry at the bedside. His father told him when he was a boy "to never leave home without a poem in your pocket." Imagine a world where every child is told that. He spoke of approaching the end of life by closing out our relationship with ourself. He read Love after Love by Derek Walcott.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
- Derek Walcott
And then, Jane Hirshfield read. I'm only giving you a taste of the night, a taste that I hope helps you with your own release, and, when appropriate, the release of those you love.